Peril of the Small Butterflies

We often overlook and give no importance to the wonders that make up our world, and yet they are the foundations of life, and so it is with our small butterflies.

In this piece we will talk about the smaller butterflies including moths and the difficulties they face surviving, and more importantly, what we can do to strengthen and boost their populations.

In my experience and observations, I have noticed that the smaller species of butterflies, like Sulphurs and Skippers, rarely fare well in our Native landscapes within the Urban Matrix, as compared to some of the larger species. For example, some yards may have had tons of “Phyla nodiflora” for many years and have yet to see any Peacock or Phoan Crescent butterflies.

What we suspect is going on includes a combination of things.

To begin, some of these smaller butterfly species host on grasses, groundcovers, and what we have been told to consider as "Weeds.” What else happens are bad practices and, what I like to call, the altitude-connectivity issue. The result is that species struggle to survive and are unable go thru the whole reproductive cycle and expire because of this.

Many landscape practices are aimed at trimming, mowing, blowing and cleaning up as much sod and grass as possible, in the shortest amount of time, and this goes on for many homes across a wide area.

What ends up happening is that the species that lay their eggs on the grasses and groundcovers never reach their potential due to these hit-and-run landscape maintenance practices. They get mowed down and blown away. If a Dainty Sulphur Caterpillar on a Spanish needle was about to emerge from the chrysalis, the poor guy would never stand a chance against a 175MPH gas blower. Fragmentation occurs decreasing the odds for specie survival.

A lot of these smaller species seem to need open space, or at least a patchwork of spaces over a broad area. What occurs when you have rows and rows of homes with oversized, manicured lawns, with chemical use, and no space for natural vegetation, is the dramatic decrease in the species population. I’m talking about a lack of connectivity between green spaces that can sustain these species. Unlike a Monarch Butterfly that can fly miles into the sky, these smaller species don’t reach those altitudes. They can’t fly up and over a barren situation.

An example of fragmentation

So what do we do?, Well in this case we can actually do nothing! yes nothing what i mean is even if you just dedicated a small fraction of your lawn to grow naturally where you dont mow and let the grasses and "weeds" come up, you'll already be setting the stage for these species to thrive. Steer away from chemicals, we really dont need them and especially not in the amounts that are being used, It will lead to sickness. As always and I wont tire of saying it, Introducing Native plants back into your landscape is the best and most effective way to balance the ill.

In summation our small butterfly and moths populations are dramatically dwindling within our Urban communities, due to bad practices, lack of adequate native vegetation and the fragmentation that occurs between gardens and green spaces. These creatures are the basis of the food chain and quite frankly are responsible for the comfortable quality of life we enjoy, ultimately our biggest threats are apathy and unawareness.

Now let us imagine for a minute or rather project for a lifetime a near future where ecological principles are the norm, where entire communities can uplift and sustain the local flora and fauna that have been driven to the brink of extinction, where we do right by our Creator and have learned to live in cooperation and balance with the Earth and her progeny.

Community ButterflyScaping (Illustration: Gail Hansen)

#NativePlants #InvasiveSpecies #Butterflies #Moths #Bees #Birds #Trees #Earth #Pollinators #SouthFL #Everglades #Wildflowers #landscaping #ecologicallandscaping #Pieridae #Hesperiidae #Wildlife #Flora #Fauna #Creator #TheGreatSpirit

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